Court Fees for Divorce in Texas a Comprehensive Legal Guide

Going through a divorce is not only a stressful situation to find yourself in but it can also be expensive. One of the most important factors that may be preventing you from filing for divorce is the costs associated with doing so. It is strange to think about at first, but money may be the root cause of you wanting a divorce as well as being the reason you are hesitant to move forward with the case. That contradiction and more are what we are going to be discussing in today’s blog post from the Law Office of Bryan Fagan.

Picture this: you are in a marriage of more than ten years. It’s stable in the sense that you all can work, raise your kids, and go about your business without much incident. However, what ends up happening from time to time is that you get frustrated at your inability to have any say in the family finances. How can this be true when you have a stable marriage? It all starts with the fact that you have not worked in many years while your husband is a successful money manager for some of the wealthiest people in town.

You used to work before you had kids, but it was not the kind of work that produced a lot of income for your family. The work you did was in line with your degree path but instead of finishing school, you chose to get married. Your husband was ahead of you in school, so he had already graduated with a degree in business management. This allowed him to secure a coveted job with one of the major financial planning firms in Houston. From there, he parlayed this opportunity into a role as a financial planner catering to wealthy and successful Houstonians. 

Not surprisingly, this allowed your family to become wealthy and successful. Your life has all the trappings of success and financial strength. Nice cars, a stately home, a private school for the kids, and fun vacations are all a part of your routine. On the outside, it looked to be the perfect life and a solid marriage. However, you and your husband have been growing apart. He works quite a bit and is not there for you emotionally. There is no violence or infidelity that you know of, but the marriage isn’t what you want it to be. 

So, you’ve been thinking about a divorce for a few months now. Your children are teenagers who have a great relationship with you. They would end up living with you primarily, but your spouse is a good dad who would be able to have standard visitation. He still works quite a bit but he can make his hours so weekend visitation should not be an issue. You even know the general process of a divorce due to your best friend having just gone through a divorce. 

Again, on the outside, it looks like you would be ready for a divorce to begin. However, underneath you don’t feel confident in that at all. The costs of a divorce are adding up in your mind. Doesn’t it cost money just to file a divorce? What about hiring a process server to notify your husband that the divorce has been filed? Where are you going to get all the money you need to follow through on this case? Who can you turn to for help if you need it?

All these questions are causing you to second guess what you should be doing now. Can you move forward with the divorce? Do you have the resources? Will you be provided with help during the divorce and afterward? This is what we are going to be discussing in today’s blog post from the Law Office of Bryan Fagan. If you are thinking about a divorce but have questions about the costs then today’s blog post is for you. 

Start to budget before the divorce begins

First, let’s walk through some of the costs that you will encounter initially in a divorce case. Many times, if you can get past the concerns that you have with paying for the “up front” costs of a divorce then you will be confident to get moving with your case. Of course, the best way to pay for a divorce is not to need one in the first place. If you can do anything to avoid a divorce, then you should consider that option. That could mean trying to go to therapy, talking through issues in your marriage with your spouse, or performing any work possible that could help you and your spouse go through a divorce. As the old saying goes: an ounce of prevention is worth a pound of cure. 

However, if you and your spouse have already tried to reconcile with one another and come up unsuccessful then shifting your attention to a divorce makes sense. If we are being honest with ourselves many of our households do not engage in the sort of financial planning and budgeting that we ought to. We may have a general understanding of what goes into our household budget but asking more than that is beyond our capabilities. We simply reason that we lack the time or ability to budget properly. Budgeting is also unpleasant to consider because it supposedly forces us to constrain our spending. 

Budgeting is the key to this entire process, believe it or not. When you can effectively budget that puts you in a position where you can better prepare yourself for what’s to come. A consistent budgeting plan lets you look at your life from the perspective of a person who knows how much money she can spend each month and stay in a good place financially. Not budgeting means that you may run into several issues with your finances. You are more susceptible to losing track of your money and overspending. 

A budget permits you to spend money. This is in stark contrast to the belief that many people have that a budget puts handcuffs on your spending. Any of us reading this blog post can say that when it comes to spending there is no worse feeling in the world than being out of control. Without a budget, it can feel like you are constantly out of control. When you are dealing with a process like a divorce where costs can escalate quickly this is like throwing gasoline on a fire. 

Before your life starts to look like a blazing inferno it is a great idea for you to have a budget in place before your divorce begins. Assuming that you are the spouse who plans on filing for divorce this gives you a distinct advantage. Start to figure out what you need to live each month. This will be a challenge because you will be basing this budget on being a single adult rather than a married person. However, the sooner you start to craft a budget the better off you will be once the case begins. 

There is not much in a divorce that you can do that costs you zero dollars. However, a budget is one of those things. It costs you nothing to map out and live on a budget. It is a net positive decision for you to make no matter what your financial outlook is. Start to live intentionally with your money and you will find that the rest of your life falls into place.

The initial costs of a divorce

Now, let’s jump into the costs of a divorce that you are going to run into. Don’t try to necessarily avoid these costs. It is possible to avoid filing fees by being destitute. Essentially, if you are on food stamps, or subsidized housing, and are unable to work you can submit an affidavit (sworn statement to the court under oath) that you are unable to afford to pay the costs associated with filing for divorce. A judge will review your request to have fees waived and you may be in line to file and proceed with a divorce at no cost. 

However, under the situation that we laid out earlier in this blog post that would not be possible for you. Most people who ask to have their fees waived will have their request denied. While many of us may be going through tough financial times that does not mean that you would qualify to have your fees waived. No assets to sell, no job for income and government benefits. This is the combination of circumstances that you would need to have in place for your court costs and fees to be waived.

For everyone else, you need to start thinking about how you are going to budget for the costs of a divorce. To start with, there are filing fees associated with simply getting your case into court. You can go to the website for your county to determine what the fees are. Most county or district clerks will have their fees posted online. If not, you can call the clerk’s office and obtain that information directly. 

Budget up to $500 to file the divorce, have copies made, and then have your spouse served with notice of the lawsuit. It may vary somewhat across the state of Texas, but you can rest assured that the court costs will be within a few hundred dollars of this amount one way or the other. If you are having trouble coming up with this amount of money, then you may need to start thinking about getting a second job or in some cases a first job. There may not be additional costs that add up to being much more than a few hundred dollars the rest of the way. However, these initial costs may be enough to motivate you not to file in the first place. 

Costs of a divorce during the case itself

Once you have paid the initial court costs and filing fees there may not be another dollar that you need to spend on the case for some time. Or your experience may be that there are many costs that you have to consider almost immediately. This will all depend upon your circumstances. For example, if you are the parent who will be the primary caretaker of your children then you need to be prepared for receiving child support from your co-parent. By the same token, if you are going to be the parent who pays child support then that needs to be built into your budget.

The more children you have and the more income you earn the more money you can expect to pay in child support. Child support is not something that can be avoided if you have minor children. Standard calculations for child support can be found in the Texas Family Code. This will be the default method for calculating child support if you and your spouse do not come to another method in your negotiations. You can expect to pay at least $1000 per month in child support if you have one child and an average income. 

Mediation is the next major cost associated with a divorce. Mediation involves you and your spouse agreeing to meet with a neutral, third-party mediator who will help you all arrive at a settlement in your divorce case. It could be for temporary orders earlier in the case or final orders after your case. Half-day mediations cost around $500 while a full day is closer to $1000 if not more. 

Mediation helps to avoid the two most costly parts of a divorce: a temporary order hearing and/or a trial. When you consider the costs of appearing in court, it is not that going to court and “reserving” the courtroom is expensive. Rather, it is reserving your attorney’s time in court that will end up costing you. Family law attorneys bill by the hour. This means that the work performed on your case will be reflected in your bill. The more work that needs to be performed in your case the higher your bill is going to be. 

Other financial aspects of a divorce

Spousal support temporarily may be a part of your case. If you are a spouse who has not worked for many years, then you do not need to feel like you have no opportunity to file for divorce. Rather, you can be awarded temporary spousal support at least during the divorce. This temporary support is intended to help you stay financially above water during the divorce case itself. From there, you may need to find work to pay your way after the divorce.

The temporary orders phase of your case allows you and your spouse to divide up how you are going to pay your bills during the case. Depending on your respective income levels you may find that your spouse needs to pay most of the household bills. This is true even if you stay in the home and your spouse moves out. Of course, your ability to stay in the home after the divorce depends upon your ability to pay the mortgage and other bills. Overcommitting yourself financially to a house that you cannot afford is a surefire way to harm yourself at the end of a divorce.

As you can tell, the costs of your divorce will depend upon a handful of factors. No two divorces are exactly alike. Therefore, the costs of no two divorces will be exactly alike. When you consider that your divorce will depend upon how well you and your spouse can negotiate with one another that should tell you something. The more amicable and civil your divorce is the less expensive it will tend to be. This could run against how you currently feel about your spouse but if you can manage those emotions then a less expensive divorce may be what you have.

Overall, your divorce is going to cost you some amount of money. Even if your expenses in court costs are kept to a minimum it is unavoidable that you will spend some amount of money on your divorce. This means that having a budget and being intentional about how you spend money during the case is important. Saving up as much cash as possible to pay for your case is a great route to take. You may also be interested in putting some costs of the case on a credit card or even contacting a finance company that specializes in legal matters. Whatever option you choose for your situation you should be as intentional as possible. 

Questions about the material contained in today’s blog post? Contact the Law Office of Bryan Fagan

If you have any questions about the material contained in today’s blog post, please do not hesitate to contact the Law Office of Bryan Fagan. Our licensed family law attorneys offer free-of-charge consultations six days a week in person, over the phone, and via video. These consultations are a great way for you to learn more about the world of Texas family law as well as how your family circumstances may be impacted by the filing of a divorce or child custody case. 

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At the Law Office of Bryan Fagan, PLLC, the firm wants to get to know your case before they commit to work with you. They offer all potential clients a no-obligation, free consultation where you can discuss your case under the client-attorney privilege. This means that everything you say will be kept private and the firm will respectfully advise you at no charge. You can learn more about Texas divorce law and get a good idea of how you want to proceed with your case.

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